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Asking for Help is Essential to Success

Written by Ariane Deliz, Corporate Governance Associate

My boyfriend and I originally moved to Madison, Wisconsin a year and a half ago with a hazy dream in mind – to open a CrossFit gym. He was an avid CrossFitter and became a certified trainer while we were living in sunny San Diego. We always knew the ceiling as a trainer was low and the logical next step, should he stay in the field, would be to open his own gym.

San Diego was an over saturated market and we did not have the capital to buy an existing gym there so, when we decided to move to Madison, we evaluated opening a gym in “America’s Fittest City.” In the fall of 2016, barely eight months after moving, we started looking for a business location. We went into the process with rose-colored glasses, thinking we would find this flawless spot and be open by Christmas. Boy, were we wrong. Every seemingly perfect location was met with a resounding NO. We encountered so many roadblocks, receiving denial after denial. By this past spring, we began to lose hope. We discussed Plan Bs and threw around wild ideas (like buying a house in the middle of nowhere with an existing gym building on the property).

It was a stressful time for us, but we didn’t give up. We learned a lot about the commercial real estate market and we started looking for professional help. Seeking referrals from people we already trusted was a great first step. When that is not possible, I’d recommend looking at local businesses dedicated to the markets they serve. Ask them for references, and quiz them on all the “what if” scenarios. We landed on hiring both a trustworthy broker who knew the landscape as well as a dedicated attorney with experience in the commercial brokerage and leasing process. Finally, almost a year after we started officially looking, we finally found a suitable spot.

The commercial real estate process can be confusing, but with the help of our broker and our attorney, we protected ourselves well. When we signed our lease, we thought that was the end of our waiting – but we were wrong again. The weekend before our expected opening date, (the week of the first CrossFit Games in Madison at that), building integrity issues came to light, and we were back to the waiting game. Luckily, our attorney had the experience to cover all contingencies, and we have officially opened our doors!

Throughout this process, our patience was put to the test. Each time we were hit with a road bump, we “went back to the basics” — we evaluated the situation, we asked questions, we looked for common ground, and most importantly, we asked for help. While “perfect” wasn’t always attainable, we settled for “good enough” and found that was really okay. Have you ever found yourself in a situation that challenged your resilience? How did you resolve it and to whom did you reach out to for a solution?

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